Blog Entry

Mining “Development and Progress” Spills Blood Once Again in Guerrero, Mexico: Two more deaths on the conscience of Prime Minister Trudeau

Jamie Kneen

National Program Co-Lead

This is a statement by REMA, the Mexican Network of those Affected by Mining.

Victor and Marcelino Sahuanitla Peña were assassinated for fighting for the few, tattered labour rights that still exist in Mexico, rights that powerful and corrupt Canadian transnational corporations - among many others - fail to respect or guarantee for workers at their mines. The assassination of the two men joins a long list of women and men who have fallen in connection with Canadian mining companies.

Just last year, a similar situation arose in connection with the Los Filos mine operation of Goldcorp/Leagold in the neighbouring community of Carrizalillo, when a shady agreement was struck with union leaders leading to the dismissal of hundreds of workers. Later, only some of them were reassigned to other areas of work on three month contracts, within which time several accidents occurred on the job that were never reported by the company.

Now, another Canadian mining company, Torex Gold Resources, which operates the Media Luna project in the municipality of Cocula in open collusion with a corporate union submissive and obedient to the company, refuses to respect even the most basic labour rights of mine workers. In response, workers organized a strike that was violently attacked on Saturday November 19th by a group of assassins that openly operate in the area, protecting the interests of the company. Prior to this, a group of fishers from the community of Nuevo Balsas were also similarly threatened, and have still not had their concerns addressed by the company or the government, who has continued lying to them and administering the conflict.

All last week, news was coming out about the labour strike. Canadian unionis issued statements calling for the intervention of their Prime Minister. Similarly, several weeks ago, Mexican organizations were in Canada, speaking out about about recurring and terrible human rights, environmental and labour rights violations in connection with Canadian mining companies all across Mexico, especially in the state of Guerrero. Nonetheless, the Prime Minister has been dodging this issue, despite having promised to bring it under control during his electoral campaign. Other labour and social organizations expressed their solidarity last week, out of particular concern over potential repression and eviction of the workers following the arrival of members of the special federal police force (gendarmería, which report to the army) in Cocula, although who knows where they happened to be on the day of the assassination.

There are others involved in this assassination. Mr. Pierre Alarie, Canadian Ambassador in Mexico, who since he arrived in Mexico on April 7, 2015 has demonstrated racism toward the Mexican people and particularly in the state of Guerrero. Another responsible for this tragedy is the Governor of Guerrero, Mr. Astudillo, for whom there is no solution, given his tremendous lack of vision and social commitment, submission the Canadian and federal governments, and who has been truly ignorant about the situation in the state. Both, along with various officials, go around talking about how happy we should be in Guerrero at the enormous quantity of gold under our feet. [Federal Secretary for Social Development], Ms. Rosario Robles tells us that we should even give thanks to the Canadians for their investments, given that thanks to them the state and country are experiencing progress through the mining fund that has been established. Meanwhile, municipal presidents - a few have started to regret having given permits to these companies - are trapped in a spiral of violence and financial scarcity, simply wanting to complete their terms and try to move up through the political ranks where they might feel less risk, although this is not as true as before.

And so it goes, while gold continues to bring ‘Progress and Development’ to the state, Chinese companies are eyeing the possibility to obtain a piece of territory in the state through the Special Economic Areas, which represents the cherry on top of the pie in terms of ceding territory and the natural commons to transnational corporations. While all this is going on, each day there are more communities dispossessed and displaced in “Guerrero’s famed gold belt”, there are more authorities trapped in the networks of transnational companies and organized crime, and there are ever fewer ways to hold dialogue and reach social agreements that could bring peace. On the contrary, there are more and more who are stubbornly resisting, exercising, defending and asserting our rights, our rights to life and our right to self-determination.

We send a fraternal hug to the family of Victor and Marcelino Sahuanitla Peña and join the calls for justice, clarification of what took place and punishment of the material and intellectual authors of these horrible events. Victor and Marcelino only wanted a bit of respect for their labour rights. Mining progress and development does not even allow this.

Mining Companies Out of our Communities – For Territories Free of Mining